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MarkofSeaLife 05-08-2019 09:54 AM

Docklines - How long should they be?
Right-O the boats getting a present. Docklines.
I go to a variety of marinas, more in the next few years than the first decade of cruising.

My current ones need replacing so its a good time to do it right.

Is there a rule of thumb for the length?
What type? 3 strand nylon twist is 1/3rd of the price of woven dockline braid.
What breaking strain for an 8 ton 40 foot boaty?

Any advice thats made your boat perfect?



CLOSECALL 05-08-2019 10:34 AM

Re: Docklines - How long should they be?
I recall one time tied up on Tangier Island in the Chesapeake, Milton Parks looked at my three strand with contempt. "A waterman would never use that", said he.

RegisteredUser 05-08-2019 10:35 AM

3 strand nylon with chafe protect is good
...figure length of boat is standard

RegisteredUser 05-08-2019 10:37 AM

8 plait packs/stores much smaller.
Think stuff sack...

rpludwig 05-08-2019 10:40 AM

Re: Docklines - How long should they be?
Mark, I just went thru this on Friday, as ours were trashed from Florence...our club's recommendations are below, and we require dbl lines at each corner, plus a springline or two. I shopped many sources on line and ended up catching a 40% off sale at Overtons. My slip needs 20' at bow and 15' aft due to piling locations. I went with premium dbl braid as our old 3 strand nylon didn't hold up well....hope this helps some.

TYPE of dock line: There are essentially two types of dock line - double braid nylon and three strand twisted nylon. Double braid is more expensive, but it is stronger, has a much longer service life, and is much easier to tie and untie. Three strand twisted line becomes so dried out after several years that it is almost impossible to untie or retie. Since most of your dock lines are only about 15' long between the two tie off points, the difference in the stretch factor is insignificant. I strongly recommend double braid. SIZE of dock line: Our club Dock Policy requires the following: Boats up to 22' 3/8" line Boats 23' to 30' 1/2" line Boats 31' to 39' 5/8" line Boats 40' to 46' 3/4" line Double lines are required at each corner, fore and aft, with at least one spring line to prevent movement toward the dock. Two spring lines are preferred.

Minnewaska 05-08-2019 10:47 AM

Re: Docklines - How long should they be?
For transient docklines, I like to have more than just a standard set. I've seen all sorts of odd needs. However, as a standard, I'd pack two lines that are approx the length of the boat and two that are approx half the length. It's always better to have too long than too short, as you no doubt realize.

As for size, I find the cleats on the boat to be the variable. If the line is too big for the cleat, you can't double them up.

SanderO 05-08-2019 11:11 AM

Re: Docklines - How long should they be?
Shiva is 36'... I rarely use a dock except in winder storage

All lines are 3/4" black braid on braid nylon w/ one large loop. (they may be standard offerings not custom).

1 @ 50' (bow line) solid black
1 @ 30' (mid ship) black w/red trace
1 @ 30' (stern) solid black

I have several several red 5/8" braid on braid x 20'

SeanM26 05-08-2019 11:27 AM

When on the fishing boat we used the rule of 2/3's. Each dock line needs to be at least 2/3's the length of the boat, and the TOTAL breaking strength of the lines to shore need to be at least 2/3's the displacement of the boat.

I was on a 127 footer that displaced 186 tons We had two 130' lines made of 1.5" Samson Force-8, and two 100' lines of 1.5" 3-braid nylon securing us any time we had to tie up.

Jeff_H 05-08-2019 11:27 AM

Re: Docklines - How long should they be?
When I am cruising I carry a minimum of four lines with eyesplices in the ends that are the length of the boat that I use as breast lines and 4 lines which are the length of the boat plus 20 feet (two with eyesplices and two without)which I use as spring lines. These are longer than normally recommended but my experience when cruising is that I often end up in a longer slip than my boat plus it also requires roughly 11-12 feet just for the knot tied to a piling (clove hitch with lock knot). For what it is worth, I do not have mid-ship cleats so the spring lines typically run the length of the boat.

I strongly prefer a premium quality three strand nylon for its greater stretch that absorbs shock loads more gently reducing wear and tear on the boat, line, and its crew. In my experience three strand lasts much longer than double braid since the covers on double braid seem to abrade through (even with chafe gear) much quicker than the wear that three-stand can absorb. (In the same slip and the same boat, I got 16 seasons out of my last three-strand nylon permanent lines that replaced a 3 season old set of double braid that had enough chafe to be questionable.) I also carry patches of heavy ballistic nylon chafe gear that I tie onto the line at chafe points with light line if I expect to be tied up for a while.

As far as diameter, for my permanent lines at my slip, I use the next size larger diameter line that has a breaking strength greater than the displacement of my boat. With a 10,500 lb displacement boat those turn out to be 5/8" diameter. For my 'traveling' dock lines, I use the next size smaller diameter line with a breaking strength less than the displacement of my boat and those turn out to be 1/2" diameter.

When I have replaced all of my traveling lines (new boat) I bought enough three-strand to get the bulk discount and then spent a winter afternoon splicing all 6 of them with eyesplices and whipping the ends of all them.


RobGallagher 05-08-2019 11:29 AM

Re: Docklines - How long should they be?
36 ft boat
I keep at least 4 that are about 60-75% of the length
2 that are about 100% of the length
2 that are about 150-200% of the length. I can make a quick bridle & tow line, double them up for two spring lines, loan them out to someone in need, run them all over the place for a storm set up, etc. I pick them up now and again at Defender in the remnant bin.

I also leave shorter bow, stern and two springs set up at the dock. If I go off cruising I usually take these with me.

I used to only buy three strand because it's more stretchy and cheaper. Now I buy whatever is on sale and I think will last longest for the dough.

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